By Warren Coe
An Earnest Plea
From time to time I receive email correspondence from students in Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey. They ask all sorts of questions. The one that excites me the most is when they ask about getting more from their Bible reading.
Here is a note from one of my students. She writes, “I am hoping you can give me your thoughts on how to maximize my experience and studying (of God’s Word). I went into this class (Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey) knowing I would most likely be spending the rest of my life (ok, maybe I exaggerate) trying to grasp the Bible. I work full time and time is not something I have an abundance of.”
Here is What I Wrote
There is a passage that came to mind when I read your email. It is in Deuteronomy 4:29. “But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
It is not like the Lord is hiding from His people but there must be effort to find Him. This is so true in knowing God’s Word. Yes, some truths are like the gold flakes on the shoreline near Sutter’s Mill. However, many of God’s truths are set deep into the soil of His Word and require us to dig them out in order to own them. I think God is pleased to make this dynamic a reality in the Christian life.
I would suggest the following course of action for digging out the gold nuggets of the Bible.
Six Steps for Getting More Out of Your Bible Reading
Step One: Be patient with yourself. He is patient with you. Take your time about discovering the truths of God’s Word. Knowing the Bible is a lifetime endeavor.
Step Two: Call on the Holy Spirit to guide you in His Word. In John 16 Jesus promised to give us the Holy Spirit who would guide us in all truth. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (Joh 16:13-15 ESV)
Step Three: Read a little each day. I used to think that devouring the whole cow was the best way to eat a steak. Just eat the steak. Spend time with one passage or one chapter. Ask questions: What is happening in this passage? Who is doing the action? What truth is revealed? How do I apply this truth to my life? Very simple questions can get a lot more riches out of the Bible.
Step Four: I would work out a daily reading plan. With me, this changes each year. Sometimes I start in Genesis and read to Revelation. Other times I will spend time in Paul’s pastoral epistles like 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. Other times I will read through the four gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Make your reading plan simple and doable.
Step Five: Keep track of your questions arising from your reading. Ask a friend who you trust to know and explain the Bible.
Step Six: Meditate “day and night” on God’s Word. God gave a simple command to Joshua. “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:7-8 ESV) Meditate when you are driving to work. Meditate when you take a walk. Meditate in those midnight hours when you can’t sleep. Let the Word of God encompass your mind and heart.
These steps will aid you in wrestling with God’s Word and discovering the gold nuggets of God’s truth. I’ve been reading the Bible almost daily for 45 years. I’ve studied the Bible from a scholarly perspective, pastoral perspective and personal perspective. I’ve gained a greater confidence in my understanding of the Bible and my relationship with the Lord. It is a good start and I have a long way to go.
Start small. Build up. Read more. Grow more through God’s Word.